Avoid electrical fires with these easy steps

Potential electrical fire hazards are everywhere.

A buildup of dust, trash and spider webs is an invitation for fire to start in the electrical system. Good housekeeping greatly reduces the odds for a fire.

Many fires result from defects in or misuse of, the power delivery system. Wiring often fails due to faulty installation, overloading, physical damage, aging and deterioration by chemical action, heat, moisture and weather. Such wiring should be replaced and new circuits installed. Tips:

-- Do not overload circuits by using multi-plug outlets.

-- Use extension cords only when necessary and make sure they are heavy enough for the job.

-- Avoid creating an octopus by inserting several plugs into a multi-plug outlet connected to a single wall outlet.

Most electrical devices are subject to internal wiring failures, faulty power cords and switches that add to fire risk.

-- Inspect all electrical devices and their cords.

-- Repair frayed insulation at once.

-- If an electrical device does not work or works poorly, makes unusual noises, smokes or has a burned smell, or issues sparks or a pop, unplug it immediately and have the problem fixed.

If an electrical fire starts at a wall outlet, pull the plug by the cord or turn off the main switch. Call the fire department, give them your address and tell them it's an electrical fire. If the fire is small, use a CO2 fire extinguisher. Never put water on an electrical fire. If the fire is large, turn off the main power source and do not try to handle the fire yourself.

-- Electric cords should be examined on a routine basis for fraying and exposed wiring. Particular attention should be paid to connections behind furniture, since files and bookcases may be pushed tightly against electric outlets, severely bending the cord at the plug.

Extension cords are another source of increased electrical risk in the workplace.

-- Extension cords should only be used in temporary situations.

-- Extension cords should be kept in good repair, free from defects in their insulation. They should never be kinked, knotted, abraded or cut.

-- Extension cords need to be placed so they do not present a tripping or slipping hazard.

-- Extension cords should not be placed through doorways having doors that can be closed and thereby damage the cord.

-- All extension cords should be of the grounding type (three prong).

Additionally, electrical outlets should never be overloaded with more plugs than they are designed to accommodate.


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